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The Merchant Adventurer of Stockholm, 1673
Among the wills and their evidences proved in the prerogative court of Canterbury is a nuncupative one disposing of the property of George Shuttleworth, some time of Asterley. Officials in faraway London, ill acquainted with these parts of the north, at times spelt the name of the village in this way. The Shuttleworths were a local family in both Astley and Bedford. About the end of July, 1673, a little before his death, George Shuttleworth, then residing in Stockholm in the kingdom of Sweden expressed his last wishes to two other English merchants living with him: Thomas Frere and William Smith and desired them to get in touch with a nephew, William Shuttleworth. He was named as executor and after paying certain legacies to relatives, friends and to a free school in Lancashire, he was to inherit the remainder. Between July 1673, and June 17th 1675, when the nephew obtained authority to get in the estate, the English merchants had passed on their dead friend's oral wishes. Beyond this entrancing shaft of historic light from the outpost of a northern capital, there is no other fact. Was the free school the Mort school in Astley, the place where this far-travelled exile and merchant adventurer took his schooling?
Margaret Mort, 1675
Margaret was the widow of Thomas Mort, who died in 1638. She made her will on July 20th 1666, when living at Peel, Little Hulton, and by it cancelled all arrears of the rent charge owing to her out of the Astley estates. Her will makes several personal bequests to the two daughters of her deceased son Thomas, and a like sum to the daughters of the same name. Margaret of her other son Robert. Another legacy to another grandson Thomas, son of the Thomas who had died before his mother. All iron grates, a sealed bed in the room over at Peel, a cupboard and all cloths up the stairs were to be considered as heirlooms and no price put on them. In the great number of rooms at Peel in this time one was called Mr. Thomas chamber and a second Mr. Richard Mortís chamber. This Margaret was very rich; she died possessed of personal effects value at £40 other credits and ready coin came to £3,347, in total the covet accumulation of £3,747. Included in her possessions was a pair of scales for weighing gold an item much used by a banker and, which betrays the true character of the activities of the Mort family in this era of history.
Widow Scott, 1675
Ann Scott was widow of Lambert and who died in 1668. She died in 1675 and evidently shared the house with her son Lambert. She was not well to do £ 1 0s 8d. In this was no price of, geese, two hens and a gander.
Astley highways, 1676
There had been an order served to the supervisors of the roads, Oliver Guest and Lawrence Twiss. They were to see to their immediate repair, clean the crop hedge trees and taking the measurement from ditch make them at least eight yards wide. In their final report October 27th 1676, these two certified the bench of justices at Manchester that 25 roods in Gilbert Smithyís lane, 13 roods in Coldalhurst lane, 62 roods in Blackmoor lane. 131/2 roods in Sant Lane and 131/2 roods in Town Lane were not yet made to that specified width. Sant Lane was Sandy Lane.
Unwilling officers, 1677
Oliver Guest and Lawrence Twiss had served their year of office as township surveyors of the roads in Astley. They had lost money besides much time, in performing their enforced public duty and were twenty shillings out of pocket. The towns meeting in 1677 had elected A Arthur Halliwell and Richard Collier to serve, but they had refused. At Wigan the justices enforced their liability to take office under a penalty of £5. At the same time they were ordered to reimburse the late surveyors their loss from monies which would come into their hands.
Robert Wright of Coldalhurst 1679
Some time before this year Robert Wright had acquired Coldalhurst, that hoary estate, which the Coldales had held in unbroken succession of tenure and name from the very earliest of recorded time. The last of the family to be located here according to the wife of George Walwork. Widow Ann gave twenty shillings each to John, Thomas, and Margaret Green, grandchildren and to her daughter £70. Certain sums owed by Thomas Speakman and Charles Hatton were, when collected, to go for the benefit of the children of John Manley of Westhaughton, now dead. The remainder went to Samuel and Anne equally. Her total estate at £190 compares with that of £320 of her husband, Thomas. From one note that there was a ladder at Woodbums which belonged to her and priced among her goods, it would appear that she occupied some other property during her widowhood.
Thomas Gillibrand the Elder, 1693
This Thomas, successor to his brother Ralph in 1667 was known as the elder to limit confusion with another brother also named Thomas, who was called the younger. Their wives were Rachel and Mary. Another Thomas Gillibrand with wife Ann was a Chapman, who died in 1729. His eldest daughter Rachel had married Peter Dixon of Morleys. His other numerous children were Alice, Arm, Ellin, Jenny, Josiah, Esther, William, Mary and Thomas. Sometime in 1727 William Gillibrand, brother of this Thomas, had died and his affairs were not yet completed, when Thomas himself died in 1729. Thomas made Peter Dixon his executor; he did not complete before his death and his widow Rachel, now the wife of Richard Pickering, gave a bond of £600 on November 28, 1732, for authority to continue with the credits. Then Williams niece Margaret Hurst of Tyldesley applied for a bond of £200 in the same year to finish off William's accounts. This Thomas Gillibrand was probably the last of the long grey line of Gillibrands of the Peel; he left £295, and his inventory of October 7, 1729, lists his furniture in the Hall. He was in the cotton trade weaving jeans. Much later in 1737 a son of Thomas, Jeffry, living in Worsley was along with James Higson a carrier of the same place made guardians of Jefrry's sister, Esther, who was not yet of age. It was about this time that the family of Gillibrand tenants of Cockersand for weary years before the Great Spoliation in 1536 was displaced by the great Entwisle debt from their patrimony for ever.
Peel Hall Mortgages, 1693
From this year to 1756 fulsome details are preserved of a succession of mortgages on Peel. This was a common practice resorted to for raising portions and dowries for younger members of the family when under the laws of that day the land went to the eldest son. But in the end it was a practice which led to the disappearance of many old landed families.
In July 1693, Thomas Gillibrand the younger and Mary his wife borrowed from various lenders, one of whom was Thomas Famworth. Later this Mortgage of £250 lent by Famworth was transferred to Bertle Entwisle, who soon became a very large creditor. He advanced in 1697 £216 and the year after the great sum of £1,143. Entwisle was a 'justice of the peace and resident locally as his name appears on many sessions papers of this period.
Valentines are historic figures in Astley's history. Their roots spread deep and far. Henry Valentine paid tax in 1332 and later opposed the rector of Leigh. The family continued in association with these parts over long years and their home at the head of Sandy Lane was for centuries a landmark. Previous to 1622 Thomas Valentine had been in the fustian trade, with his brothers William and John. The family later climbed into grand-scale business. In 1690 John Valentine was described as merchant of London, son of his father Thomas, who had been made citizen. On September 10th of that year in the dining hall of the Middle Temple he mortgaged his inheritance in Astley to two ironmongers of London for £618. John's mother Grace died in 1708 and in 1724 Mary Valentine of St. Swithin London Stone, her sister Martha, wife of Henry Tweddale, pewterer and Andrew Valentine's widow Hannah of St. Dunstads parish, Stepney, sold the house and land in Astley to Joseph Cunliffe, chapman. By this sale the ancient estate lost its name and ceded to the name of Cunliffes. This Joseph died in 1755, when it was disclosed that the area was some thirteen acres and that the whole has been let to James Tyldesley of Morleys as under tenant. John Cunliffe followed his uncle and was in possession, when the Enclosure Award of 1768 gave him an allotment in South Lane on the south side. At some later time Samuel Arrowsmith paid £865 for Cunliffes estate and discharged all encumbrances still subsisting. In 1813 it was still known as Cunliffes, but two fields on the brookside were commemorative of the old name, Valentines Higher Ellenbrook and Valentines Lower Ellenbrook. The whole then extended to 26 acres large measure. It formed part of the real estate of the Arrowsmith family in 1813.